Monday, June 17, 2013

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

More Rubio "political posturing"

"Rubio introduced an amendment to his own bill last week to bolster its language requirement by saying it cannot be met by simply taking an English class. Those who want to become permanent legal residents would have to demonstrate proficiency in English, just as you must do now to become a citizen."

Most immediately, it riled immigrant advocates who support the bill — but failed to satisfy some conservatives who oppose it. Both sides see Rubio's amendment as a distraction, or an example of political posturing.
"Rubio's English requirement touches nerve in Florida". Related: "Graham: GOP to fail in 2016 without immigration overhaul".

The "real Rick Scott"

Fabiola Santiago: "Scott — Paris-bound on Friday on a 'jobs' mission — is b-a-a-a-ck!"

On Tuesday, he vetoed a measure that would have allowed the children of undocumented immigrants, affectionately dubbed “Dreamers,” to get a Florida driver’s license.

The law, passed by the Legislature by a nearly unanimous vote, would have eased the way for the young people covered by President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive order suspending deportation to get a driver’s license.

That’s all, no big deal.

For these young people, this country is the only home they know because they were brought here by their parents as children and have been educated here.

The Legislature’s action would not have given Dreamers any privileges, except being allowed to use their “approved application for deferred action status” as identification to obtain a driver’s license.

“Deferred action status is simply a policy of the Obama administration, absent congressional direction,” Scott wrote in his veto message. “Although the Legislature may have been well-intentioned in seeking to expedite the process to obtain a temporary driver license, it should not have been done by relying on a federal government policy adopted without legal basis.”

There he is, the governor who turned down federal funds for high-speed rail in Florida.

There he is, the governor who fought the Affordable Care Act, not the governor who recently endorsed a three-year expansion of Medicaid, to the chagrin of his tea party base.

It’s too bad for Scott, who may have underestimated the feelings of most voters.

According to a poll released two days after his veto, 71 percent of Floridians favor bipartisan immigration reform — which would prescribe a path to citizenship to the qualified Dreamers to whom he’s denying a driver’s license.

More bad news for the governor: Florida Republicans back the immigration reform proposal before Congress 71-22 percent. Add to that that, an even larger number — 82 percent — who said their state senator should support it, too.

Those are huge numbers. It’s not a far stretch to think Floridians might want their governor to support the Dreamers.

"Return of the real Rick Scott".

Insurance agent excites RPOF

"When Pensacola's Mike Hill soared to an easy electoral victory in Tuesday night's special election to replace the late Rep. Clay Ford, he did more than become Florida's newest legislator: he made history, becoming the Panhandle's first black Republican elected to the Legislature in 126 years." "Meet Mike Hill: Florida's Newest Legislator, 'Free-Market Capitalist Zealot'".

"Ballot-fraud scandals mount"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "As ballot-fraud scandals mount, voters should be worried about the integrity of elections. Phantom ballot requests have now tainted two congressional races, two state legislative races and even the current Miami mayor’s race involving both major political parties. This equal-opportunity corruption must end."

In the latest flap, county elections workers found about 20 absentee-ballot requests made on May 29 by one computer belonging to a campaign worker for Commissioner Francis Suarez, who is running for Miami mayor. Mr. Suarez makes a compelling case that this was one big misunderstanding because, unlike in other cases being investigated, his campaign had signed permission from those voters to solicit the absentee ballots. Permission or not, it’s illegal to solicit ballots unless the one asking for the ballots is a family member of the voters in question.
"Election fraud: From the streets to cyberspace".

State stiffed corrections officers

"Acting on complaints by two prison guards and the Teamsters Union, the Labor Department’s Wage & Hour Division launched an investigation at Union in Raiford in 2011."

The complaints alleged that officers were not paid while they waited in line to be searched and pass through metal detectors, receive tear gas canisters and walk to their assigned post, a process that officers said can take 25 minutes at UCI.
"Hundreds of state prison staffers owed comp time, back pay".

Grayson 2.0

The Grayson haters in the MSM can't restrain themselves, with tripe like this: "Rep. Alan Grayson, the self-styled ‘congressman with guts,’ has managed what seems like an impossible feat of self-restraint." "Rep. Alan Grayson 2.0: Less fire-breathing, more self-restraint".

Scott seen as "easy target"

"Florida Democrats see Gov. Rick Scott as easy target in 2014".

"Mostly true"

"Nelson said Scott returned '$1 million in federal funding that would have helped the state cover the cost of overseeing insurance rates under the new health care law.' It is undeniable that a grant for that purpose in that amount was sought, and a grant was returned. But the official who technically returned the money was the state's insurance commissioner, a political appointee who answers to Scott as part of his role on the Financial Services Commission. Still, he did so shortly after Scott took office and Scott's office claimed some amount of credit back in 2011. We rate the claim Mostly True." "PolitiFact: Bill Nelson says Rick Scott said no to $1 million to monitor health insurance rates".

"A chance for a game-changer of epic proportions"

Nancy Smith: "Rick Scott so far in his administration plain hasn't been listening to the right people a lot of the time. For a governor with subtropical approval numbers, appointing the right lieutenant governor, and doing it soon, is a chance for a game-changer of epic proportions. This is an opportunity to listen to good information, to govern better, to fill in the areas that need work and find somebody who knows the players, knows history and knows his or her way around." "Rick Scott Should Get on With Hiring the Right Lieutenant Governor".

"Shortsighted Republican leaders"

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "The state and Hillsborough County are poised to reward an out-of-state corporate giant that has avoided collecting Florida sales tax for more than a decade by offering it millions in tax incentives to finally hire Floridians and contribute to the state's economy. Gov. Rick Scott tried to sell his tentative agreement with Amazon on Thursday as another sign that he is improving Florida's economy. Don't be fooled. Amazon is once again getting just what it wants — access to the Florida market at less cost than competitors who have been here for decades."

[I]n Florida, shortsighted Republican leaders have failed to consider how to modernize a tax system so heavily dependent on sales tax revenue. Scott may have struck a deal that could bring 3,000 jobs, but he did it on the backs of taxpayers. Amazon, once again, is the big winner.
"Taxpayer giveaway for Amazon". The Miami Herald editors: "Internet sales get free ride in Florida".

"Scott against the consumer"

The Tampa Bay Times: "It's one thing to be a hands-off governor when it comes to lawmaking. It's something else to be a governor who fails to use the tools at his disposal to protect consumers even as he promotes himself as an advocate for the middle class. Five weeks after legislators left Tallahassee, the full scope of anticonsumer bills passed in the 2013 session is becoming apparent. Yet Gov. Rick Scott is routinely acquiescing to special interests by signing their bills rather than upholding his pledge to look out for consumers."

Scott seems only willing to defend consumers' interests if he perceives he will politically benefit — such as his veto of a modest tuition increase at the state's public universities. Scott said it amounted to tax increase. But he has yet to apply the same outrage on pocketbook issues hitting far more Floridians.
"It's Scott against the consumer".